Today I’m responding to a viewer who asks “how do I stop asking questions about my partner’s past?”

If you’ve ever asked yourself “how do I stop asking questions about my partner’s past?” you are not alone.

Transcript below

Zachary Stockill: S writes,

How do I stop asking questions about my partner’s past? And how do I stop without letting it eat at me if I don’t.

Thanks for your question S.

There are a lot of ways to approach this particular challenge associated with retroactive jealousy, ranging from very lofty and philosophical intellectual to very practical. And today I’m going to try to provide you with a mix of both.

So the first thing I would say, if you’re struggling to “stop asking questions about my partner’s past,” the first step in this process is to become immediately conscious of what’s going on.

Pause, take a deep breath and get some perspective, get some clarity about exactly what is happening. Now, in past videos, I’ve talked about naming your retroactive jealousy, like, “Saying this is the little demon in my head” Or you can literally say like, “Screw off retroactive jealousy.” Or, “Stop.”

You can address your retroactive jealousy almost like it’s a person, like it’s a schoolyard bully and tell them to buzz off if you find that helpful.

Other people find it helpful to simply pause and realize, “Oh wait, this feeling, this anxious feeling, this tension that I’m feeling around asking these questions and this urge, this is not reality. This is not me. This is not insurmountable and ultimately these questions aren’t going to get me anywhere. Because this is irrational retroactive jealousy. This is the little RJ demon in my head that is trying to run the show and I’m not going to let it.”

This sounds simple. As I share this, I don’t mean to say that this is going to solve your problem overnight, it won’t.

There’s a reason my premium course on overcoming retroactive jealousy is well over 10 hours long. It’s probably up to 11 now. This is a topic that I believe pokes at a lot of different issues in our psyche and there’s a lot to unpack.

So this little technique of just pausing and being conscious of what’s going on is not going to solve your problem overnight. But I do believe it is the most important first step in actually stopping this process and getting out of this cycle of feeling this urge to ask your partner more questions about their past.

An analogy I really like, it’s a bit grizzly, so bear with me. But an analogy I really like is unfortunately when certain drug users are using certain drugs… they get itchy, they get these itches in their skin and they scratch and they scratch and they scratch and they scratch and they scratch.

And eventually they hit blood, they start bleeding and then they had bone. It can get really, really disgusting and very, very gross, but yet they still can’t stop itching. Because it’s this itch that they feel like they need to scratch.

This is what it can feel like when you’re wondering “how can I stop asking questions about my partner’s past?”

I certainly remember feeling like that back in the day, back when I was struggling with retroactive jealousy. Many of the people watching this video know this urge to, it feels like you have this itch that you just need to scratch. But the thing to keep in mind is you can itch all you want, like the drug addict itching themselves, but actually your hand isn’t really itchy.

There aren’t any bugs under your skin or anything like that. It’s all in our head.

And when you pause, when you take a deep breath and realize what’s going on, it gives your mind time to realize, “Oh yeah, I’m trying to scratch an itch that can never be fully scratched.” Because as you probably know, as many of the people watching this channel know, I firmly believe that asking your partner endless questions about their past is the worst thing you can probably do if you want to keep your retroactive jealousy going.

In short, unless it’s a serious deal breaker question. For example, “Have you had kids before? Have you been married before?” These are examples for me of things that I feel like I need to know about my partner’s past. My advice is unless it’s a question like that, don’t ask it in general.

And remember that you’re trying to scratch an itch that can never be fully scratched. So that’s the lofty philosophical bit of this process, the advice that I’m offering you.

The more practical step I can offer, the more practical step I can recommend to you is try to find something productive to do with this energy.

Because this urge to ask questions represents a source of energy, represents a form of energy just like anything else. So it’s a good idea to try to find a way to burn some of this energy up.

For example, you can go up and you can give your partner a massive hug, or maybe you can take them to the bedroom and you can make passionate love for an hour. Or maybe you can go out for a jog or do a run or do something productive that you’ve been putting off for your job or something.

The point is to consciously use up this energy doing something that is actually productive, actually going to help you, your life, your relationship, which is the exact opposite of what scratching this imaginary itch would do. Asking your partner more questions about their past, the chances are very good this is actually going to cause more problems than good.

So find something productive you enjoy. It can be a good idea to actually list out some things you enjoy actually on a list, have it handy at all times. Do 10 pushups or listen to my favorite podcast for an hour or make love with my partner or whatever it is. You’re going to have to adjust depending on where you are, where you and your partner are, et cetera. But try to find a productive use of this energy.

And as you’re using this energy in whichever way you’re conscious of, try to feel some of the energy to ask questions drift away from you. As you realize how beneficial it can be to actually invest your energy in pursuits that are going to benefit your life instead of harming it.

Wondering “how can I stop asking my partner questions about their past?”

I just released a new 10-part audio series for retroactive jealousy sufferers.

It’s called Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy: The Guided Meditations, and it’s available right now.

Get all the details here.


Zachary Stockill
Zachary Stockill

Hi! I'm a Canadian author and educator whose work has been featured in BBC News, BBC Radio 4, The Huffington Post, and many other publications. I'm the founder of RetroactiveJealousy.com, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and The Overcoming Jealousy Workbook, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.